Unlike many women’s packs that are simply smaller, colorful versions of men’s models, the Heli Pro DKX fit our female testers (it’s also available in men’s) with no compromises. The backpanel is shorter than the men’s equivalent (by nearly 2 inches), the width between the shoulder straps is smaller (at only 4.5 inches), and the canted hipbelt and narrower lumbar matched all of our testers’ curves. Shoulder straps arc away from the breasts for a secure fit without pinching. “I have big hips and a tiny waist,” says one tester who logged 27 ski days with the pack. “This is the best-fitting pack I’ve worn.”
Ski & snowboard carry
“The snowboard sleeve between the framesheet and backpanel is the most comfortable and easiest to use that I’ve found,” says one tester after more than 20 backcountry trips with the Heli Pro. “The heavily padded, stiff flap holds the board securely in place, with no wiggling or bruising, even when I hiked more than 1,500 feet to earn my turns.” Tuck-away straps secure skis vertically or diagonally.
Avy gear fits neatly in the full-length front pocket. Access the roomy main packbag via a durable zipper that lets you peel back the front and top of the pack for a full view of the contents. “I love the fleece-lined, padded pocket for my goggles and lenses,” said one tester after battling quickly changing conditions on Mt. Hood. Bonus: An insulated hydration tube sleeve on one shoulder strap kept our hose from freezing, even when temps dropped below 10°F (we were careful to always expel water from the tube).